Beautiful British Columbia is the slogan that is plastered on every license plate in British Columbia, and on my week long backpacking trip in Malibu, British Columbia I found that to be absolutely true. Through an organization called Young Life, my friend Elliot, my brother, our Young Life leader Jonathon and I got to take a week out summers to get away from everything and enjoy our beautiful world during Young Life’s Beyond Malibu backpacking trip. We were excited and nervous at the same time – none of us had ever done anything like this.
After meeting our 2 guides, Cole and Noah, at the Beyond Malibu base camp, we gathered our equipment together and clambered into a small boat that cruised the narrow inlet towards Mount JJ. We sat in silent awe at the sight of the majestic mountains that erupted so sharply out of the deep blue water on either side of us. Chatterbox Falls, one of the top sailing destinations in the world, lay at the base of the mountain and when we pulled up to shore, we understood why it was a top choice for sailing. The waterfall itself was beautiful, but it was the waterfall combined with something inexplicable that led to a peaceful and worry free feeling that was so strong it was almost tangible.
Spirits were high as we started our hike, even with the 35-40 pounds of necessary food and equipment on each of our backs. The climb was steep and arduous, but breathtakingly beautiful. We crossed waterfalls, climbed massive knotted tree roots, waded through knee deep mud, fought mosquitos that thought DEET was frosting, scaled rock faces and much more. That first day we hiked over 7 hours up to a height of over 4400 vertical feet. Over the following days we were in rope teams to cross glaciers, we learned to self-arrest if we fell or slipped on the snow, we rappelled, glissaded (sliding down the snow using the ice ax as a brake,) and reached the summit of Mount JJ – an impressive height of 7300 feet.
While hiking we neither saw another person nor did we keep track of time – we ate when hungry, went to bed when we were tired, and woke up when the sun awoke us. Not knowing what time it was was a little weird at first. Coming from a scheduled society where time runs our lives, I felt like I was missing something when I didn’t know what time it was. However, the longer I was in the mountains, the more and more I realized that not needing to worry or care about the time was one of the best experiences of my life. It was so freeing to enjoy life moment by moment, taking everything as it came. The best part was that all the while we were surrounded by nothing less than stunning snowcapped mountain views, half frozen lakes with beautiful blue ice, and splendid star-filled skies.
This trip was more than just beauty at its finest… it taught me the importance of slowing down and enjoying the now.
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